I’ve had this recipe for a vadouvan carrot puree with seared sea scallops in the queue for quite some time, but never got around to posting it. Not sure why? Somehow this recipe slipped through the cracks, but it’s definitely worth sharing.
Perhaps you’ve heard of vadouvan?? It’s become rather ‘trendy’ as of late (truth be told, there’s nothing new about it). I suppose what’s old is new.
Vadouvan curry is a spice blend, an Indian masala (i.e., South Asian term for spice blend) with French influences. The French interpretation includes shallot/onion and garlic. This spice blend evolved due to French colonial influences in Southern India.
The addition of onion or shallot is what really sets vadouvan apart from a typical Indian curry blend. In the past, I’ve made my own vadouvan, which was something special, but A LOT of work. Thus, this time around, decided to make my life a little easier and tracked some down.
The blend I used today is from Kalustyan’s (NYC). You can find just about any spice, herb, or Indian ingredient there. If you’re ever in NYC, Kalustyan’s is definitely worth a visit. However, I must warn you, it’s hard to contain yourself and not walk out with the entire store (well, at least for me it was).
The blend I bought contains a mixture of onion, garlic, fenugreek, curry leaves, cumin, cardamom, mustard, fennel, turmeric, nutmeg, cayenne, and cloves. This one has a little spicy zip to it.
I’ve listed other sources for vadouvan below (all with slightly different spice blends).
Vadouvan is highly versatile. For instance, it’s really nice in this red lentil (vadouvan), curry, and coconut stew.
Today’s dish is quick and easy, but not shy on flavor. A nice starter, light lunch, or dinner. You can make the puree ahead of time and reheat before serving. Doing so makes the dish a snap to prepare.
Instead of scallops, the carrot puree also pairs well with firm whitefish such as halibut, haddock, cod, sea bass, snapper, etc.
Was pretty happy with the sear I got on my scallops. The key to achieving a good sear: pat your scallops dry, season well, and cook in butter 🙂 I think butter may be the answer to all of life’s problems. Make sure your pan is nice and hot — the scallops only need a quick sear, about a minute and a half per side.
Here are a few places where you can find vadouvan:
123 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
187 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11201
The Spice House
several locations in Illinois and Wisconsin
Savory Spice Shop (this version has hickory smoke flavor added to the blend, interesting).
several locations across the United States
Store bought vadouvan…
Homemade vadouvan (recipe here)…
These little black seeds are called nigella seeds. Completely optional in this dish (black sesame seeds would also work), but quite interesting and worth talking about. What I love so much about cooking is discovering new ingredients and flavors.
Nigella seeds also go by the name kalonji (in India) or charnushka (in the United States). They’re sometimes mistakenly referred to as black onion seeds, black cumin seeds, or black caraway seeds; however, nigella seeds have nothing to do with any of the aforementioned seeds.
They are a bit smoky/toasty, peppery, and slightly bitter. These little seeds have been touted for their numerous health benefits (some might even say, an ancient remedy and cure-all for just about any ailment).
Nigella seeds are typically used in preparing Indian flatbreads, though the seeds are equally tasty when sprinkled on vegetables, especially root vegetables. Try them on mashed potatoes, green beans, curries, stir-fries, in salads, dressings, etc.
Creamy Vadouvan Carrot Puree with Seared Scallops
*sea scallops (serving suggestion, 3 per person)
salt and pepper
vadouvan curry carrot puree (recipe below)
nigella seeds (optional); substitute black sesame seeds
Pat the scallops dry. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the scallops and cook, without moving, for 1 1/2 minutes until nicely browned. Flip and cook another 1 1/2 minutes until nicely browned. Remove the scallops from the heat.
Spoon some carrot puree on a plate. Place the seared scallops on top. Sprinkle with nigella or black sesame seeds. Garnish with a few microgreens.
*Instead of scallops, the carrot puree also pairs well with firm whitefish such as halibut, cod, haddock, sea bass, snapper, etc.
Vadouvan Carrot Puree
2 tablespoons butter (or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled, whole, crushed gently with side of knife
1 small bay leaf
1/2 onion sliced, thinly
1 tablespoon vadouvan curry spice blend, such as this one or this one or this one or this one (heat level may vary depending on the blend you use).
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
2 cups of carrot, chopped ~ 1-inch pieces
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons heavy cream
sea salt and black pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and cook a couple of minutes until the garlic is golden. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the vadouvan curry spice blend and ground fennel seed, and cook another minute or so until aromatic. Add the carrots, stock, and cream. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and discard. With a slotted spoon, transfer the solids to a blender jar. Add just enough cooking liquid to produce a creamy puree (you may not need all the liquid). Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.